Working from home

Denmark has been in lockdown – or something like it – for close to two months now. March 11th our prime minister announced that all public employees where to be sent home as soon as possible. A lot of other institutions, companies and functions were similarly closed down. Further restrictions were introduced in the following weeks.

My husband was also told to work from home. He had his first full day at home on the 12th. I had to show up at work on the 12th, and was sent home early because I had an online meeting in the afternoon.

How is this working? The first 1½ week it was great! Finally I had the time to get on top of things, uninterrupted by meetings, colleagues asking if I wanted to drink coffee, or if I could help change the toner in the printer.

The next two weeks – (timeline excluding the 1½ week I was on mandatory vacation at home in connection with easter) – where not that productive. The stuff that could be done without talking with colleagues was running out.

And after that – now we have found the way. Online meetings are working, debating the way we should design a general, introductory workshop on visualization of data is as frustrating as it would have been otherwise. And the amount of irrelevant meetings is back to normal. Do not misunderstand me – meeting with colleagues without having an agenda is nice. And necessary, especially since we are in almost complete isolation at home. On the other hand. Not every meeting is actually necessary. I started the lockdown joking that we would now discover which meetings could have been emails. Now, I think that we are beginning to discover which emails could have been meetings. If we cant meet, at least we can have a meeting.

In other words – the bad habits of the physical office is entering the online office.

Managers and colleagues have no problem booking online meetings at the same time as you are in another meeting. With little to no understanding that you are actually in another meeting. As I wrote my boss: I can’t wait for us to get physically back to the library, so I can tell you that I cannot attend that meeting, since I am out of town at another meeting.

Usually it is possible to get people to understand, that if your meeting at location A ends at 12.00 you are not able to attend another meeting at location B. Or, they can understand if if there is 30 minutes of transportation between the two locations. Not so in the virtual world. Leading to a day (two weeks ago as of this writing), with the first meeting beginning at 9 and ending at 9.30. The next meeting from 9.30 to 11.00. The next again from 11.00 to 12.00. And the next from 12.00 to 13.00. The fifth meeting started 13.00 and was finished 14.00 Not that we were actually finished, but the sixth meeting was at 14.00. Happily it was a short one, only lasting 15 minutes. So I had 45 minutes for a biobreak, before the final meeting started at 15.00.